Nicholas Quirke was not happy with his technology on 8th December when he had been unable to connect to the internet and publish his blog from the 7th, which had been quite a day and had provided him with some amusing anecdotes as by the end of it he was exhausted after having walked a total of 23 kilometers in the Sun and wind. His day started with an altercation with a local Berber barber who had enticed into the little salon to tidy up his goatee for the agreed price of 40 Dhiran. Despite it being a relaxing experience and enjoying the scent of the pomades and oils he was pampered with, Nicholas was not happy when the wily barber then asked for 150 Dhiran. He argued that they had agreed 40 but eventually crumbled and ended up giving him 100. They had also met with Holly and Kamal to walk to the ranch at Diabat tho see the horses and further on to view the mournful ruins of the Sultans Palace. On their return they stopped at Ocean Vagabond, where hungry and hoping for supper he discovered the Vegan option was limited to chips and he found himself playing the Vegan Victim role, always an enjoyable moment for him. He met with more of Richard and Eileen’s friends and was delighted to be reacquainted with Diane and Aly. Though tired he ended his day trying to get his blog out but frustrated by his failed efforts went to sleep in the hope of more success in the morning before he and Eileen left for Marrakech. He tried to get out his podcast, blog and update but again he was thwarted by the data flow. It was an early start as it was a 3 hour journey to Marrakech by coach and one he was looking forward to. Plans to see The Marjorele Gardens, Jemaa el-Fna Square the Souk and the Saadian Tombs were made. They were determined they would not succumb to any attempts to defraud them of money and were rigorous, once in Marrakech, that prices would be negotiated before they spent. Their first visit was to the Marjorele Gardens, the Berber Museum and the Yves St Laurent Museum. The gardens were exotic and beautiful, as were many of the vain butterflies who posed in their finery against the blue buildings.  Lunch in the grounds and then they headed to the square to see the snake charmers, the monkeys and the chancers.  Nicholas was trying to curb his people pleasing but before he could protest, he found himself with a snake wrapped around his neck, staring into the eyes of a cobra and having 400 Dhiran asked of them. Eileen stood her ground and they got away with only 100. The Souk was colorful and lively though they eventually found themselves commandeered through the streets to a venue they realised they did not want to see and as a result they missed the opportunity to see the Tombs or the Ben Youseff Palace. Their last act, before tea in L’Adresse to see the sun begin to set, was to negotiate a fair price for a woven bin, Eileen’s bargain of the day. It had been a fun day and they were full of talk on the journey back to Essaouira and already making plans for Nicholas’s return and a night in Marrakech to catch the sights he had missed. Home to bed ans another early start on Sunday.

Nicholas Quirke was not going to give up on the amazing views he had lost from the organised hike the day before and decided he would head out early and capture some of the key sights. Eileen lent him her bike and he headed north, out through the Medina and on towards the shore and the sewer works. As he cycled, he thought about his odyssey and once again felt excited to be on a journey and visiting his fifth continent in the space of the year. Being in Africa reminded him that he had been in New York and seeing ‘The Book of Mormon’. Nicholas was genuinely thrilled to be on a bike heading off into the remote but known landscape, recapturing the images that had prompted him into indiscriminate use of his camera. It was sunny, the beach was deserted and he felt a sense of joy to once again having no immediate commitments and he could live completely in the moment.  As he cycled back the seat got lower and lower. till he felt like he was riding a kids bike. A group of street children found this most amusing as the chased him down the street jeering and crying out “Monsieur, Monsieur!” Shades of Sebastian and ‘Suddenly Last Summer’ again. He was back in the Medina in time for lunch and met Eileen. Richard and Jamie for a bite to eat in a lovely rooftop bar Taros.  Nicholas was surprised as he bought a  fridge magnet and a postcard that the shop keeper gave him no change from the 20 Dhiran. He questioned the cost of the postcard but the merchant was unrelenting and said that it was 10 Dhiran! Nicholas was affronted by this daylight robbery but realised that it was the equivalent of a £1 and though he let go of the money he could not let go of the offense.  He was ready to picket the store and stop people shopping there, Richard and Eileen did not think this was a good idea. Nicholas was in his element in the kitchen, cooking a Chick Pea and lentil stew for everyone’s supper before they headed off to the ultra cool Mega Loft for a smoothie and some laid back live music. The evening was rounded off with more chat and laughs and Jamie sharing his happiness with being in Morocco, a feeling Nicholas definitely shared.

Nicholas Quirke was enjoying a full, active and sociable day on the 5th of December but by the time he sat down to collect his thoughts about the day he ended up feeling a little deflated by events that took over his evening. The morning had started well with Eileen, Richard and Jamie taking him out with a walking group exploring the outskirts of Essaouira’s landscape and sea shore. It was an eccentric group of Ex Pats, British, Dutch, German that made their way along a dusty road that led to a sewage works. No one was expecting that, and the stench that arose from cess pools was too much for some of the sensitive walkers. They fought their way through the bush encountering cows, donkeys and a tortoise before the landscape opened up onto a wonderful, empty seascape of sand, blue skies and sea. Nicholas took the opportuinty to take over a hundred photographs on this walk, including the beautiful rock pools and arches wrought in the rocks by the waves and ones of the group before and after the 5 mile walk. Nicholas made his own way home and inadvertently found himself in Essaouira’s red light district with a plethora of women all offering their services, ‘Monsieur’ they cried reaching out their red painted nails towards him. For a brief moment he felt himself to be Montgomery Clift in Suddenly Last Summer. He decided to take some lunch, a lentil and mushroom tagine, at the Vegan restaurant where he had been treated to a rogue takeaway and was reminded that it was a year ago in New York that he had enjoyed his finest dining experience at a Korean Restaurant with Jenny Fisher . It was delicious and satisfying and as he waited he tried to see the photographs he had taken but struggled to find them, he was perplexed but thought he would sort it out later. He and Eileen went shopping in the early evening and he purchased a few items including a TinTin carving and some gifts. Back at the Ryad they were expecting a couple of friends and a builder, the smell of burning plastic began to filtrate through the home and it was discovered that there was a fire in the junction box.  They lost all electricity and they sat chatting in the candle light as Kamal arranged for an electrician to come. Within an hour and half the situation was resolved and they sat talking till quite late with Kamal and his partner Holly. Once they had gone Nicholas discovered to his horror that the 111 photographs he had taken that day were blank and he had no record of the walk and beautiful sights he had seen. This was a dispiriting situation which was added to when he learned that his lodger was giving him notice and hoped to be gone before Christmas. Ir was with a heavy heart that he went to his bed.

Nicholas Quirke was woken at 6am on 4th December by the haunting sound of prayer deep guttural moans and whines carried through the morning air and dragged him from his bed and bedroom onto the terrace, where, in his Jahballa nightwear. looking like he was going native, he watched the day dawn amongst the rooftops of Essaouira’s Medina. Once everyone was awake they set off for breakfast at the Vegan restaurant where the night before Hassam had provided Nicholas with an unorthodox takeaway. They were returning the plates that his supper was served on but sadly it was closed and they went to an alternative cafe. His agenda for the day, beyond exploring the city was to resolve the past 5 months issues with his GoPro, he had a notion it was connected with the memory card and he was determined after enjoying the artisan shops and streets and alleyways of the Medina that he would have some success. They went beyond the walls of the city and Nicholas was entranced by the shabby streets that stretched down to the shore. They shopped for groceries, bought some household necessities and got a taxi back. The shopping was loaded onto a carouser and a poor ancient man pushed their bulky buys hesitantly through the narrow crowded streets to Richard and Eileens home. After a short break he set off with Eileen and Jamie to find a memory card and a  missing cable for Jamie’s PlayStation. Progress through the streets were slow as they looked at potential purchases and were stopped by a variety of shopkeepers who ether knew Eileen or were trying to sell their wares. Hassam from the restaurant stopped them and chatted and thanked them for the plates. Success for the Memory card, though it proved to be very expensive. but they failed to satisfy Jamie’s requirements. The excellent news was that the Samsung disc sorted his GoPro problem out and he could film again but to make life more difficult his mobile phone refused to download his photos. His insides rioted with rage but it was indiscernible to his friends as they set off for supper at Beach and Friends, a relaxing beautiful location on the shore. On their way Nicholas was lured by the sight of a Fez into another shop and another purchase and another step closer to the Moroccan look Once home he was able to sort out all his technical issues, handle an attack of cramp, revisit his day in New York in 2017 with Diana and Michelle, before retiring for the night.

Nicholas Quirke was coming down from performing by going up and jetting off. It was exactly a year since he began the Odyssey and had met with Cole at MOMA in New York and as he was now experiencing a nostalgic anxiety it was exciting to be on a plane again and heading into the wide blue yonder. The heat of Morocco awaited him and the thought putting the damp chill of the UK behind added to the excitement particularly at 4.30 am as he drove to pick up his charge Jamie and drive to Gatwick. On the advice of Rory he got a deal on Valet parking and was delighted to enjoy the luxury it afforded him. The 3 hour flight to Marrekech passed pleasantly and despite warnings of hold ups at passport control, apart from a quizzical, “Is this you”  from the border guard when he saw his 10 year old passport their progress through the system was smooth and swift. Having dressed for a winter morning he was a little overwhelmed by the heat and sun as he stepped out into the Moroccan air. It was a 3 hour drive to Essaouira, the home of Eileen and Richard and Nicholas was able to get a wonderful view of the Moroccan landscape, and throughout the drive he started an indiscriminate use of his mobile phones camera capturing images from the Atlas Mountains to market towns, olive and orange trees, to horse and carts, camels and world famous goats in Argan trees. Essaouira was a beautiful seaside town and after being shown the beautiful Riad that Eileen and Richard had bought, they went out to see the sunset over the beautiful shoreline and seascape. A wander round the port, shopping for a Jahbella, a vegan take out and an evening in reminiscing, laughing and folding himself in half to write his blog, provided a great start to this Moroccan adventure.

Nicholas Quirke was reminded of the promise he had made to himself to  not Direct and act on the same production again and was wondering why he had allowed himself to break this cardinal rule he had imposed some 20 years ago. Passionate about both it was alarming to rediscover how much when he was directing he disliked himself as an actor; needy, demanding, worrying about how he looked what he sounded like what the other actors were doing in relation to himself and when he was acting how much he disliked himself as a director. frustrated by sound, movement, pace, demanding actors. Each role pulled him in different directions and the focus he needed for both was dispersed between the two. He was in full director role for the tech rehearsal and full actor role for the dress rehearsal. His excitement and whimsy at dressing up, making himself an unutterably feasible echo of a Ching Dynasty Emperor was at odds with person who needed to be making decisions about lighting states and the music that needed to be used and placating his colleagues who were all getting irritated and tired by the split personality. Nicholas was aware that the joke circulating that he would be stabbed in the back one by one by his fellow cast members was a thinly veiled truth. The act though of being creative and his whole world being consumed by staging a production was still exciting and the praise that followed each performance was still food for the soul,